Giant Rat That Fell From the Sky Is a New Species


Solomon Islanders had long reported Rodents Of Unusual Size, and now science supports them. (Nat Geo News)

Why should we care about giant rats?

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit Text Set, including today’s MapMaker Interactive map.

A big cousin of this fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rat was recently identified on the island of Vangunu, in the Solomon Islands. (This species is indigenous to the east coast of Australia.)
Photograph by Bernard Dupont, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-2.0


How might land-use patterns impact the habitat of the Vangunu giant rat?


Discussion Ideas

  • That’s certainly a clickbait headline. Did a giant rat really fall from the sky?
    • No, of course not. A 9-meter (30-foot) tree was cut down, and a giant rat that was apparently living in the tree came crashing down with it. (Neither specimen survived the fall.)


  • At least one mammalogist had been looking for a giant rat in the Solomon Islands since 2010. Why was the existence of the Vangunu giant rat, or vika, not a complete surprise to scientists?
    • traditional knowledge. Local Solomon Islanders had long reported the existence of the vika, which they describe as a large, possum-like rat that feeds on coconuts. Historic accounts from European anthropologists also supported local reports of the species.
    • feces. Everybody poops, and rats are no exception. The investigating mammalogist first identified large rat feces in 2011.




  • Why do scientists think the Vangunu giant rat is already an endangered species?



Nat Geo: Giant Rat That Fell From Sky Is New Species

The Guardian: Giant Solomon Islands rat believed to eat coconuts discovered

Nat Geo: Vangunu Giant Rat map

Nat Geo: National Geographic Emerging Explorer Danielle N. Lee Finding Natural Wonders Hidden in the City

One thought on “Giant Rat That Fell From the Sky Is a New Species

  1. The Great Horned Rat is blessing us with his children, It is only a question of time until the vermintide is brought upon us.

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